My Downtown Memories

Thanks to Mike Stanton’s post in Writing Wranglers and Warriors for inspiring this. When I was growing up in the 1960’s, my family was living in Tucson, Arizona, and a trip downtown was exciting because we had to drive through a large tunnel in order to get there. Dad or Mother kept honking the horn, as we drove through, and I loved the way the sound reverberated.

Once downtown, I enjoyed shopping in department stores with escalators and elevators. During the Christmas season, visiting Santa Claus was the highlight of any shopping trip. We often ate at a cafeteria, where my favorite meal was turkey with dressing and sweet potatoes. On my eleventh birthday, my parents took me and my younger brother to dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we ate outside on a patio.

The Tucson Community Center opened downtown while we were still living there, and Dad and I heard such performers as The Carpenters and Sonny and Cher. This facility also had a music hall where we heard performances of such works as Benjamin Britton’s A Celebration of Carols and Karl Orf’s Carmina Burana. We even heard a production of Rosini’s The Barber of Seville.

After we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, in 1973, going downtown wasn’t nearly as exciting. The only tunnels were underpasses on the freeway. None of the department stores had escalators. One had an elevator, but it was old and creaky and had to be run by a human operator. However, there was a café where I enjoyed drinking milk shakes after school.

Now, that café has since been replaced by another that doesn’t serve milk shakes. The department store with the elevator is gone, as are other stores that were there during my childhood. I still enjoy walking downtown from my home in favorable weather to do banking and other errands.

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Now, in celebration of National Poetry Month, I’ll conclude with a poem I wrote that was inspired by a childhood memory of downtown Sheridan at night. This is an acrostic in which the first letter of each line spells “downtown.” You can click below to hear me read it.


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MOONLIGHT MADNESS

Dancing lights from cars pass
on busy sidewalks
with stores of all sorts to delight shopers who have
not a care in the world, as they stroll
to Penney’s, Woolworth’s
on streets that are crowded
with babies in strollers, children, and adults
needing nothing more than to shop and enjoy.

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What do you remember about downtown when you were growing up? What has changed since then?

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Saturday Song: Petula Clark–Downtown

Thanks to Mike Staton in Writing Wranglers and Warriors for inspiring me to post this song. You can tune in on Tuesday for my downtown memories. Enjoy this song, and have a great Saturday.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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My Home Town

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In Sheridan, Wyoming, after forty years, my life has turned full circle. I live at the bottom of a hill, down the street from my former elementary school, now a child development center. The old wooden steps up the hill are still there. When I was in sixth grade, our house was at the top of the hill, and I often used those steps to get to and from school. In winter, I still hear the happy cries of people sledding.

The old brewery, now Whitney Common, features a playground, fountain, plenty of grass, and sidewalks. Only foot traffic is allowed. The senior center and public library are close by and provide parking for those using this area.

Across the street from Whitney Common, a cement walkway and bridge lead to Kendrick Park, the setting for many childhood memories. The swimming pool, band shell, ice cream stand, playground, and elk sanctuary have been modernized. When I was in ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, living only a block away, I walked through the park and climbed an old wooden boardwalk up the hill to get to the high school. The boardwalk has since been replaced by a bike path.
Downtown, Woolworth’s, with its inexpensive clothing, toys, and other items plus soda fountain, has been replaced by several smaller businesses. Dan’s Western Wear is now a thrift store. The palace Café, where I enjoyed milk shakes at the counter after school while listening to the jukebox, is now the Cowboy Café, with no jukebox or milk shakes. Main Street has since been reconstructed, with new sidewalks, lights, and curbs. The bank my family patronized for years is still there, having changed hands many times and become part of an office building with a parking garage.

When my late husband Bill proposed to me over ten years ago, he was living in Fowler, Colorado, and I was living here. At first, I thought he wanted me to leave my home town and move to his, a daunting prospect since I’d lived in Sheridan for years. To my astonishment, he told me he wanted to move here. He was tired of living in Fowler, where there wasn’t much to do. The idea that I wouldn’t have to leave familiar surroundings made marrying him more doable. You can read our story in My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.
What do you remember about the town where you grew up? What has changed over the years? Please share your thoughts in the comments field.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.